NBA testing out 44-minute game

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NEW YORK -- The NBA is going to evaluate if a shorter game could be a better one.

The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will play a 44-minute preseason game Sunday as the league tests a format that features fewer minutes and fewer mandatory timeouts.

The contest will be four minutes shorter than the NBA's standard 48-minute game. The league said Tuesday that the preseason game will feature four 11-minute quarters, one minute shorter than normal.

Acting on a suggestion by coaches to tighten up the games, the league will use the matchup at Barclays Center to examine if the shorter model flows better.

No long-term changes are currently being considered, but shorter games could be a way to keep players healthier, since there are no plans to shorten the season.

"At our recent coaches' meeting, we had a discussion about the length of our games, and it was suggested that we consider experimenting with a shorter format," Rod Thorn, the NBA's president of basketball operations, said in a statement. "After consulting with our Competition Committee, we agreed to allow the Nets and Celtics to play a 44-minute preseason game in order to give us some preliminary data that will help us to further analyze game-time lengths."

"I think it's great that the league is open-minded and looking at everything and not just following the same path because it's been done that way for however many years,"Atlanta Hawkscoach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think it's areal testament to Adam Silver and the league that they're open [to change]. I think the positives could be substantial."

There will be two mandatory timeouts per quarter. One will come at the first dead ball under 6:59 of the period if neither team has taken a timeout prior, and the second will be triggered by the first dead ball under 2:59 if neither team has taken a timeout since the first mandatory timeout.

There are three mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth quarters of the 48-minute game.

A 44-minute game would bring the NBA closer to college and international play, where the games are 40 minutes. It also would add up to 328 less minutes over the course of an 82-game season, which would translate to about seven fewer games.

But it would create some challenges for coaches.

"I'm looking forward to gauging its impact on the flow of the game. Since there is a shorter clock, it affects playing time, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays into substitution patterns," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said.

Hollins called it a "unique experiment that was worth participating in," and Boston coach Brad Stevens agreed.

"I appreciate the NBA's long history of forward thinking and willingness to try new ideas," Stevens said. "We told the NBA that we'd be happy to participate in this trial during a preseason game. I look forward to experiencing it and continuing the dialogue after Oct. 19."

Miami Heatcoach Erik Spoelstra weighed in as well.

"I don't think it's a matter of how long the game is," Spoelstra said. "I think there's too many games, to be frank. I think if there's some way to find a way to cut out some of the back-to-backs so there aren't 20-plus of them. I think that's the bigger issue, not shaving off four minutes in a particular game. But I'm open to seeing what happens with that."

"I think everybody probably agrees there's too many games in a short period of time."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban indicated that he hoped the 44-minute games do not get past the preseason experimental stage.

""I can't get enough NBA," Cuban told via the Cyber Dust messaging app. "Best entertainment in the world. So more is better."

Cuban understood Spoelstra's point about the value of games but noted that trimming the NBA schedule would have a wide-reaching economic impact.

"More games are always a risk," Cuban said. "But we play in facilities and employ a lot of people who benefit from those games."

The Nets-Celtics game will be televised live on NBA TV.

Information from's Tom Haberstroh and Tim MacMahon and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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